What are we trying to do here, anyway? First and foremost we are aiming words at eternity for the fun of seeing what we can hit. That is our verticalisthenic exercise. But to paraphrase Schopenhauer, we are like an archer trying to hit a target that can't be seen. How do we know then when we've hit it?
Far be it from me to complain about having too much fun. However, I suppose it's even more fun when a reader says something like, "Ouch. I've been hit, dammit!" Otherwise it's less like archery and more like placing a message in a bottle and tossing it in the sea. Which I'll keep doing, if necessary. But it's a little like writing comedy. How do you know if something is funny if there's no one there to laugh?
When I say we are shooting arrows at the nonlocal target, what I really mean is that we are firing our eros into Celestial Central. "Every created spiritual intellect," writes Clarke, "is endowed... with a radical innate drive toward the whole of being, the unlimited horizon of being as intelligible."
Therefore, it is not accurate to say that man cannot understand God. True, we cannot understand God as he is in himsoph, but that's true of anything, from other persons to rocks. It's a banality. However, we can understand God "in the mode of man," so to speak.
To put it another way, we can understand all we really need to know about God. The rest is none of our isness.
Which is why we are all born with the drive to know God. We wouldn't have this bally drive if it had no object at the other end, any more than we would experience hunger in the absence of food. To express it in philosophical terms, God is the sufficient reason for our zeal to know Him.
"[T]here is in every spiritual intellect a natural drive to know God as Source, fullness of being, and final goal of all knowing..." (ibid.).
Note the operative word, natural. Knowing that we have this drive requires no supernatural revelation, for it is as natural as any other innate drive. In reality, like most things about man, it is "supernaturally natural," but the point is, it is an empirical fact, not some wooly spookulation.
Now, God is love, meaning that God is first and foremost a being of self-giving. That statement -- that God is luuuv -- used to repel me as being overly cloying and sentimental, but now I see it as completely objective and rational. It has great explanatory power; conversely, if God isn't love, then it unexplains mountains and valleys of evidence.
For example, "The fullness of personal development turns out to be a losing or letting go of oneself that is simultaneously and by that very fact a new finding of oneself at a deeper level" (ibid.).
Analogously, might we not say that the Father lets go infinitely of himself, only to find himself in the Son?
"Self-transcendence is thus of the very essence of all personal development at its highest.... Only by reaching beyond the human can we succeed in becoming fully human. To refuse to do so condemns us to fall short of the human itself. To be a human person fully means to self-transcend toward the Infinite" (ibid.).
It is as if -- in a manner of speaking -- only by reaching beyond God does God succeed in becoming fully God. This statement only makes total nonsense in a trinitarian Christian context.
"Since the person is not something added onto being from the outside, but is the highest perfection and most intense expression of existential being itself, the person takes on more intensely the whole dynamism of existence as expansive, self-communicating act..." (ibid.).
Like Father, like Son; like Creator, like creature.
To be fully a person consists in living out to the full the alternating rhythm of self-possession and openness to others, or... 'self-mastery for self-giving'; for it is in the spark that passes from one of these poles to the other and back again that lies the secret of all authentic personal growth, creativity, life, and love that make the living person the supreme manifestation and glory of being. --W. Norris Clarke